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Richville tax levy drops 20 percent

Richville city councilors last week approved a 20 percent reduction in the town's 2013 tax levy.

City Clerk Gil Ebner said councilors were confident that the needs of Richville could be met with the lesser amount, and wanted to give taxpayers "a little bit of a break."

Richville's levy has been at about $19,000 a year, and next year will drop to about $15,000. The city has not had a property tax increase since 2008.

"We just felt it was time we lowered our taxes," Ebner said in a telephone interview. "We're just happy that we can operate the way we are."

The town of about 100 people is small enough that it doesn't have as many expenses as larger communities. The city does not have its own police department, for example, and residents have their own sewer systems.

"We're pretty well taken care of, and yet we don't have a lot of great big public works things that we have to pay for," said Ebner. "Our needs here in Richville aren't real great. We're kind of hiding in the trees out here."

He explained that the bulk of Richville's roughly $29,000 operating budget is spent on street lighting and maintenance, mostly graveling and grading as the city doesn't have many paved roads. Last year's mild winter meant the city was able to save what it usually spent on plowing.

The city also saves by not spending when it could. Ebner said there was talk of using tax dollars to pay for a new city hall, but ultimately that idea went by the wayside. It was decided that a city hall was unnecessary, he said, since the community center is an adequate meeting place for the city council and other groups.

"I'm a firm believer that government shouldn't be a bank," said Ebner. "If there's a need, and there's a use, then tax. But you don't go around looking for places to spend money so you can tax people more."

The city tries to support some kind of ongoing community improvement project every year, Ebner said. Most recently, that effort has been focused on making the city park more user-friendly. Even with the tax decrease, those types of projects can continue.